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“There are three kinds of IP,” Houben notes. “There are

evergreen classics like Thomas and Friends, Looney Tunes and Casper. Everyone knows these, including the adults from their own childhood, so you almost can’t go wrong with them. They have been given a new lease of life too as they’ve been relaunched in new formats over the years. “Secondly, there is film IP where it is best to have one

based on sequels so you have a guaranteed life span where the IP value is on-going. With some film based IP its value is only when the film comes out. “Finally, there’s TV based IPs which are always around

and on-going.” So is it really worth the costs involved in bringing a

famous IP into your park? “If I was the customer I would take a very strong IP,”

Houben comments. “If it’s for a family area then you need to look at the heritage of the IP – for example Thomas the Tank Engine is very popular in the UK but not so popular or well-known in some other places. It’s also a different proposition for individual rides compared to complete ‘lands.’ For individual rides I would go with the best possible IP, probably film based, while for a family area it would be Cartoon Network or something similar.” Additional benefits elsewhere in a park also come with

the introduction of a strong IP, with branded sales being two or three times higher than normal sales, for example, according to Houben. Working with IP from TV channels also opens up new promotional opportunities while the overall marketing opportunities can be huge, he adds. Also heavily involved in IP based developments is US

company ITEC Entertainment, which has worked extensively with well-known brands on over 36 attractions in major theme parks, such as Walt Disney Resorts and Universal Studios. According to the company, “ITEC’s role relative to the best use of IP is to magnify the impact of the branded items through specific design and development strategies, as well as ensure that the brand impressions exemplify the theme throughout each attraction.” “The IP used by theme park operators (either their own

or other’s IP) comes to life in both tangible and intangible formats,” comments president Bill Coan. “The tangible items consist of things like ride and show scenics, props, costume characters and so on. Intangible items are things like songs/recorded music, theming, and storylines.” And Coan continues: “Licensing and brand application by

the nature of the two parties involved, establishes a certain tension. The licensor‘s interest is to expand its brand visibility and generate revenue while protecting its precious IP. The

park operator is most interested in generating attendance through the exploitation of well regarded and established IP. A tension exists even within an entertainment giant like Walt Disney where from the beginning, a healthy conflict existed between the parks and the studio creatives as to the proper use of the characters. ‘Where should Mickey be seen, how should he be dressed, with which characters will he be seen’ are part of a long list of questions which were generally solved in the best interest of the overall Disney brand and always with the best guest experience in mind. “Licensing is therefore an art, which when successful, is

a mutually beneficial experience for both the licensor and licensee. The conditions of a good deal leave both parties comfortable with revenue shares, durations, restrictions, application and cost of quality assurance reviews, as well as terms for extensions and termination.” Coan states that licensing deals are unique to the

parties and the product. The cost and benefits are not easily translated into direct numbers and there is rarely a guarantee as to success. And he says ITEC’s experience suggests that the younger the age group target the more successful the venture, adding: “ITEC often recommends that before a potential theme park owner chooses licensed branding versus developing their own IP, they participate in a theme development workshop, often called a charette. Thoroughly exploring the options with a professional design and development firm will give owner/developers enough information and creative input to arrive at a decision to which they can feel committed.”

Revenge of the

Mummy, Universal Studios, Singapore

(Image courtesy of ITEC Entertainment)

Petzi’s World at Tivoli Copenhagen was

introduced in 2010 and has proved a big hit with visitors

(Image courtesy of Tivoli Copenhagen)


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